Seasonal fluctuations of some biological traits of the invader Caprella scaura (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Caprellidae) in the Mar Piccolo of Taranto (Ionian Sea, southern Italy)


  • Ermelinda Prato CNR-Institute for Coastal Marine Environment U.O.S. Taranto
  • Isabella Parlapiano CNR-Institute for Coastal Marine Environment U.O.S. Taranto
  • Francesca Biandolino CNR-Institute for Coastal Marine Environment U.O.S. Taranto



Caprella scaura, introduced species, lagoon area, Mar Piccolo, Ionian Sea


Caprella scaura is an epifaunal amphipod crustacean that originates in the western Indian Ocean and has spread throughout the world, but very little is known about fundamental aspects of its biology. This paper is the first presentation of its life history traits in an invaded region. The study was conducted in the Mar Piccolo basin (southern Italy, Ionian Sea), over a one-year period. All biological parameters showed a strong seasonal pattern, breeding peaked twice during the year and the number of eggs in the ventral brood pouch ranged from 5 to 72. The sex ratio was generally close to 1:1. A strong correlation between total length of ovigerous females and number of eggs was observed. The mean length of both mature males and mature females was 10.63 and 7.70 mm, respectively. The results of this study showed that the population dynamics of this species was not dissimilar to that of other caprellids or marine epifaunal Crustacea. This caprellid has given rise to a stable population in the Mar Piccolo; it was present all year round in the study area but its density suggests that it is not yet a strong invader.


Download data is not yet available.


Allendorf F.W., Lundquist L.L. 2003. Introduction: population biology, evolution, and control of invasive species. Biol. Cons. 17: 24-30.

AMBS 2002. Australian Museum Business Services: Port survey for introduced marine species - Sydney harbour (available online:

Arimoto I. 1976. Taxonomic studies of caprellids (Crustacea, Amphipoda, Caprellidea) found in the Japanese and adjacent waters. Spec. Publ. Seto Mar. Biol. Lab. 3: 1-299.

Ashton G.V., Willis K.J., Cook E.J., Burrows M. 2007. Distribution of the introduced amphipod, Caprella mutica Schurin, 1935 (Amphipoda: Caprellida: Caprellidae) on the west coast of Scotland and a review of its global distribution. Hydrobiologia 590: 31-41.

Bacela K., Konopacka A., Grabowski M. 2009. Reproductive biology of Dikerogammarus haemobaphes—an invasive gammarid (Crustacea: Amphipoda) colonizing running waters in Central Europe. Biol . Invasions 11: 2055-2066.

Beare D.J., Moore P.G. 1996. The distribution and reproduction of Pontocrates arenarius and P. altamarinus (Crustacea: Amphipoda) at Millport, Scotland. J. Mar. Biol. Ass, U.K. 76: 931-950.

Bhattacharya C.G. 1967. A simple method of resolution of a distribution into Gaussian components. Biometrics 23: 115-135. PMid:6050463

Bynum K.H. 1978. Reproductive Biology of Caprella penantis Leach, 1814 (Amphipoda: Caprellidae) in North Carolina, U.S.A. Est. Coast. Mar. Sci. 7: 473-485.

Bollens S.M., Cordell J.R., Avent S., Hooff R. 2002. Zooplankton invasions: a brief review, plus two case studies from the northeast Pacific Ocean. Hydrobiologia 480: 87-110.

Boos K. 2009. Mechanisms of a successful immigration from northeast Asia: population dynamics, life history traits and interspecific interactions in the caprellid amphipod Caprella mutica Schurin, 1935 (Crustacea, Amphipoda) in European coastal waters. PhD Thesis Freie Universität Berlin (Germany).

Caine E.A. 1979. Population structures of two species of caprellid amphipods (Crustacea). J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 40: 103-114.

Carlton J.T. 1979. Introduced invertebrates of San Francisco Bay. San Francisco Bay: The urbanized estuary. Investigations into the natural history of San Francisco Bay and delta with reference to the influence of man. Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science c/o California Academy of Sciences Golden Gate Park San Francisco, California.

Cook E.J., Willis K.J., Lozano-Fernandez M. 2007. Survivorship, growth and reproduction of the non-native Caprella mutica Schurin, 1935 (Crustacea:Amphipoda). Hydrobiologia 590: 55-64.

Devin S., Piscart C., Baisel J.N., Moreteau J.C. 2004. Life history traits of the invader Dikerogammarus villosus (Crustacea: Amphipoda) in the Moselle River, France. Int. Rev. Hydrobiol. 89: 21-34.

Dias N., Sprung M. 2004. Population dynamics and production of the amphipod Orchestia gammarellus (Talitridae) in a Ria Formosa saltmarsh (southern Portugal). Crustaceana 76: 1123-1141.

Dougherty C., Steinberg J.E. 1953. Notes on the skeleton shrimps (Crustacea, Caprellidea) of California. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 66: 39-50.

Eleftheriou A., Anagnostopoulou-Visilia E., Anastasopoulou E., Ate S.A., Bachari N.E.I., Cavas L., Cevik C., Ulha M., Cevik F., Delos A.L., Derici O.B., Erguden D., Fragopoulu N., Giangrande A., Göksan T., Gravili C., Gurlek M., Hattour A., Kapiris K., Kouraklis P., Lamouti S., Prato E., Papa L., Papantoniou G., Parlapiano I., Poursanidis D., Turan C., Yaglioglu D. 2011. New Mediterranean Biodiversity Records (December 2011). Medit. Mar. Sci. 12: 491-508.

Foster J.M., Heard R.W., Knott D.M. 2004. Northern range extensions from Caprella scaura Templeton, 1836 (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Caprellidae) on the Florida Gulf Coast and in South Carolina. Gulf Caribbean Res. 16: 65-69.

Füreder L., Pöckl M. 2007. Ecological traits of aquatic NIS invading Austrian freshwaters. In: Gherardi, F. (ed.), Biological invaders in inland waters: profiles, distribution and threats. Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 233-257.

Galil B.S. 2007. Seeing red: Alien species along the Mediterranean coast of Israel. Aquat. Invasions 2: 281-312.

Galil B.S. 2008. Project PORT Surveys of Alien organisms introduced by ships. CIESM. – The Mediterranean Science Commission. Preliminary results.

Garcia-Meunier P., Martel C., Pigeot J., Chevalier G., Goulletquer P., Sauriau P.G. 2001. Human impact and marine bioinvasions: setting genetic analysis of the Japanese Drill, Ocinebrellus inornatus (Recluz, 1851), recently introduced into the French Atlantic coasts. Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Marine Bioinvasions. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts. PMid:11386079

González A.R., Guerra-García J.M., Maestre M.J., Ruiz-Tabares A., Espinosa F., Gordillo I., Sánchez-Moyano J.E., García-Gómez J.C. 2008. Community structure of caprellids (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Caprellidae) on seagrasses from southern Spain. Helgol. Mar. Res. 62: 189-199.

Guerra-García J.M. 2001. Habitat use of the Caprellidea (Crustacea: Amphipoda) from Ceuta, North Africa. Ophelia 55: 27-38.

Guerra-García J.M. 2003. The Caprellidea (Crustacea: Amphipoda) from Mauritius Island, western Indian Ocean. Zootaxa 232: 1-24.

Guerra-García J.M. 2004. The Caprellidea (Crustacea, Amphipoda) from western Australia and Northern Territory, Australia. Hydrobiologia 522: 1-74.

Guerra-García J.M., Thiel M. 2001. La fauna de caprélidos (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Caprellidea) de la costa de Coquimbo, centronorte de Chile, con una clave taxonómica para la identificación de las especies. Rev. Chil. Hist. Nat. 74: 873-883.

Guerra-García J.M., Takeuchi I. 2003. The Caprellidea from Mirs Bay, Hong Kong, with the description of a new genus and two new species. J. Crustac. Biol. 23: 154-168.[0154:TCMAFM]2.0.CO;2

Guerra-García J.M., Takeuchi I. 2004. The Caprellidea (Crustacea: Amphipoda) from Tasmania. J. Nat. Hist. 38: 967-1044.

Guerra-García J.M., Baeza-Rojano E., Cabezas M.P., García-Gómez J.C. 2011. Vertical distribution and seasonality of peracarid crustaceans associated with intertidal macroalgae. J. Sea Res. 65: 256-264.

Guerra-García J.M., Cabezas M.P., Baeza-Rojano E., García-Gómez J.C. 2011. Spatial patterns and seasonal fluctuations of intertidal macroalgal assemblages from Tarifa Island, southern Spain: relationship with associated Crustacea. J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U.K. 91: 107-116.

Guerra-García J.M., Ros M., Dugo-Cota A., Burgos V., Flores-León A.M., Baeza-Rojano E., Cabezas M.P., Nú-ez J. 2011. Geographical expansion of the invader Caprella scaura (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Caprellidae) to the East Atlantic coast. Mar. Biol. 158: 2617-2622.

Krapp T., Lang C., Libertini A., Melzer R.R. 2006. Caprella scaura Templeton, 1836 sensu lato (Amphipoda: Caprellidae) in the Mediterranean. Org. Divers. Evol. 6: 1-18.

Krylov P.I., Bychenkov D.E., Panov V.E., Rodionova N.V., Telesh I.V. 1999. Distribution and seasonal dynamics of the Ponto- Capsian invader Cercopagis pengoi (Crustacea, Cladocera) in the Neva Estuary (Gulf of Finland). Hydrobiologia 393: 227-232.

Ladewig V., Jungmann D., Köhler H.R., Schirling M., Triebskorn R., Nagel R. 2006. Population structure and dynamics of Gammarus fossarum (Amphipoda) upstream and downstream from effluents of sewage treatment plants. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 50: 370-383. PMid:16222458

Laubitz D.R. 1995. Caprellidea (Crustacea: Amphipoda) from the southern and western Indian Ocean. Mésogée 54: 81-100. Lennon J.T., Smith V.H., Dzialowski A.R. 2003. Invasibility of plankton food webs along a trophic state gradient. Oikos 103: 191-196.

Lodge D.M. 1993. Biological Invasions - Lessons for Ecology. Trends Ecol. Evol. 8: 133-137.

Martinez J., Adarraga I. 2008. First record of invasive caprellid Caprella scaura Templeton, 1836 sensu lato (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Caprellidae) from the Iberian Peninsula. Aquat. Invasions 3: 165-171.

Mayer P. 1890. Die Caprelliden des Golfes von Neapel und der angrenzenden Meeresabschnitte. Nachtrag zur Monographie derselben, Fauna und Flora des Golfes von Neapel 17: 1-157.

McCain J.C. 1968. The Caprellidea (Crustacea: Amphipoda) of the Western North Atlantic. Bull. U.S. Natl. Mus. 278: 1–116.

McCain J.C., Steinberg J.E. 1970. Amphipoda. I. Caprellidea. I. Family Caprellidae. In: Gruner, H.E., Holthuis, L.B. (eds), Crustaceorum catalogus 2: 1-78.

Miglietta M.P., Lessios H.A. 2009. A silent invasion. Biol. Invasions 11: 825-834.

Mizzan L. 1999. Le specie alloctone del macrozoobenthos della Laguna di Venezia: il punto della situazione. Boll. Mus. Civ. St. Nat. Venezia 49: 145-177.

Naylor C., Adams J., Greenwood P. 1988. Population dynamics and adaptive sexual strategies in a brackish water crustacean, Gammarus duebeni. J. Anim. Ecol. 57: 493-507.

Newsome A.E., Noble I.R. 1986. Ecological and physiological characters of invading species. In: Groves R.H., Burdon J.J. (eds), Ecology of biological invasions. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 1-20. PMid:3089827

Nichols F.H., Thompson J.K., Schemel L.E. 1990. Remarkable invasion of San Francisco Bay (California, USA) by the Asian clam Potamocorbula amurensis. II. Displacement of a former community. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 66: 95-101.

Occhipinti-Ambrogi A. 2000. Biotic invasions in a Mediterranean lagoon. Biol. Invasions 2: 165-176.

Occhipinti-Ambrogi A., Marchini A., Cantone G., Castelli A., Chimenz C., Cormaci M., Froglia C., Furnari G., Gambi M.C., Giaccone G., Giangrande A., Gravili C., Mastrototaro F., Mazziotti C., Orsi-Relini L., Piraino S., 2011. Alien species along the Italian coasts: an overview. Biol. Invasions 13: 215-237.

Prato E., Biandolino F. 2003. Seasonal changes in population of the Amphipod Gammarus aequicauda (Martynov, 1931). Medit. Mar. Sci. 4: 49-56.

Prato E., Biandolino F. 2005. Amphipod biodiversity of shallow water in the Taranto seas (north-western Ionian Sea). J. Mar. Biol. Ass, U.K. 85: 333-338.

Prato E., Biandolino F., 2006. Life history of the amphipod Corophium insidiosum (Crustacea: Amphipoda) from Mar Piccolo (Ionian Sea, Italy). Sci. Mar. 70: 355-362.

Ranasinghe J.A., Mikel T.K., Velarde R.G., Weisburg S.B., Montagne D.E., Cadien D.B., Dalkey A. 2005. The prevalence of non-indigenous species in southern California embayments and their effects on benthic macroinvertebrate communities. Biol. Invasions 7: 679-686.

Ren X., Zhang C.H. 1996. Fouling Amphipoda (Crustacea) from Dayawan, Guangdong province, China (South China sea). Institute of Oceanology, China Academy of Sciences 1: 58-78.

Sainte-Marie B. 1991. A review of the reproductive bionomics of aquatic gammaridean amphipods: variation of life history traits with latitude, depth, salinity and superfamily. Hydrobiologia 223: 189-227.

Sakai A.K., Allendorf F.W., Holt J.S., Lodge D.M., Molofsky J., With K.A., Baughman S., Cabin R.J., Cohen J.E., Ellstrand N.C., McCauley D.E., O'Neil P., Parker I.M., Thompson J.N., Weller S.G., 2001. The population biology of invasive species. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 32: 305-332.

Sconfietti R., Mangili F., Savini D., Occhipinti-Ambrogi A. 2005. Diffusion of the alien species Caprella scaura Templeton, 1836 (Amphipoda: Caprellidae) in the Northern Adriatic Sea. Biol. Mar. Mediterr. 12: 335-337.

Serejo C.S. 1998. Gammaridean and caprellidean fauna (Crustacea) associated with the sponge Dysidea fragilis Johnston at arraial do Cabo, Río de Janeiro, Brazil. Bull. Mar. Sci. 6: 633-637.

Skadsheim A. 1982. The ecology of intertidal amphipods in the Oslofjord. The life cycles of Chaetogammarus marinus and C. stoerensis. Mar. Ecol. 3: 213-224.

Stachowicz J.J., Fried H., Osman R.W., Whitlatch R.B. 2002. Biodiversity, invasion resistance, and marine ecosystem function: Reconciling pattern and process. Ecology 83: 2575-2590.[2575:BIRAME]2.0.CO;2

Stimpson W. 1857. The Crustacea and Echinodermata of the Pacific shores of North America. J. Nat. Hist. 6: 503-513.

Takeuchi I., Hirano R. 1991. Growth and reproduction of Caprella danilevskii (Crustacea: Amphipoda) reared in the laboratory. Mar. Biol. 110: 391-397.

Takeuchi I., Hirano R. 1992. Growth and reproduction of the epifaunal amphipod Caprella okadai Arimoto (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Caprellidea). J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 161: 201-212.

Templeton R. 1836. Descriptions of some undescribed exotic Crustacea. Trans. Entomol. Soc. Lond. 1: 185-198. Thiel M., Guerra-García J.M., Lancellotti D.A., Vásquez N. 2003. The distribution of littoral caprellids (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Caprellidea) along the Pacific coast of continental Chile. Rev. Chil. Hist. Nat. 76: 297-312.

Townsend C.R. 2003. Individual, population, community and ecosystem consequences of a fish invader in New Zealand Streams. Cons. Biol. 17: 38-47.

Van der Velde G., Rajagopal S., Kelleher B., Muskó I.B., Bij de Vaate A. 1998. Ecological impact of crustacean invaders: General considerations and examples from the Rhine River. Crustacean Issues 12: 3-33.

Vassilenko S.V. 1991. Ecophysiological characteristic of some common caprellid species in the Possjet Bay (the Japan Sea). Hydrobiologia 223: 181-187.

Weygoldt P. 1924. Die Embryonalentwicklung des Amphipoden Gammarus pulex. Zool. J. Anat. 77: 51-110.

Woods C.M.C. 2009. Caprellid amphipods: an overlooked marine finfish aquaculture resource? Aquaculture 289: 199-211.




How to Cite

Prato E, Parlapiano I, Biandolino F. Seasonal fluctuations of some biological traits of the invader Caprella scaura (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Caprellidae) in the Mar Piccolo of Taranto (Ionian Sea, southern Italy). scimar [Internet]. 2013Mar.30 [cited 2020Nov.25];77(1):169-78. Available from: